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Twisted History: Song Review

Twisted History: Tell the True Stories in Thomas Roussin’s “All Those Years of Heart”

As a growing child goes to school, there are chances that he or she will learn accounts of history handed down from the past and through different generations. These are usually stories of what happened and did not happen, and who did this and who did that. However, are there chances that the growing child will end up learning history that is full of lies? The answer to the question is yes, because history can be full of distorted stories, and there is the need to dig up and tell true stories that amount to real historical treasures.

While Thomas Roussin’s “All Those Years of Heart” addresses the legacies of colonization in Saskatchewan, Canada, and his lyrics quickly bring to mind, centuries-old European conquest of most parts of Africa, in search of slaves needed to sustain lucrative commodities industry. Many things happen when this kind of conquest occurs. True stories of ancestries get diluted with lies. Unborn generations, unfortunately, get to grow up learning history that largely portrays accounts very much far from what the plain truth is.

The lyrics to Roussin’s song contain words that jump at the reader with a strong statement that says, you are what you know. The first verse extols the importance of gaining knowledge through reading: “Lately, I’ve been doing some reading on my own”. Generally, any knowledge acquired becomes some sort of treasure within the person who acquires it, no matter the way it is acquired. This knowledge becomes a vast and important resource, as the song suggests, which can inspire one to take action towards righting the wrongs. Getting equipped with knowledge reveals historical crevices with inaccurate pictures of the truth. However, knowledge cannot be acquired without concerted effort solely aimed at going for it.

Atrocities committed by the imperial white invaders is very much at the heart of this song. This song is not lacking in deftly crafted words that rhyme nicely, and words that give the entire piece a touch of smooth rhythms and unique flow. It seems in this song that Thomas Roussin makes it look like it was the Indians, according to history, who had the drive to settle for an accord with the European invaders called white Canadians today. This lyrical piece could be made better if light could be thrown on this particular account. This could open it up for a reader to have better insight. There is more to what meets the eyes, the author of this lyrical story says in two remarkable lines: “It was the Indians that wanted Treaties. But they got the Indian Act too”. This quickly brings to mind a vivid picture of a delicious looking carrot whose red color has overwhelming appeal difficult to ignore, and right inside it is a stick designed to get stuck in the neck of anyone who takes a bite, chews, and swallows. The Treaty was supplanted by the Indian Act which came with many unpalatable conditions, and far reaching consequences like loss of control, adoption of status of subservience for the indigenous Indians, calculated attempts to obliterate pre-existing history, and the grand one of them all, which history has let us know too well: The establishment of a master-slave relationship where the master gets to eat the meat and the slave gets the dry bones.

“All Those Years of Heart” is a song laden with history. It calls on inhabitants of native communities in Western Canada to action: “Maybe, we’ll just have to write a history of our own. And bring to light the story right”. There are parts of Thomas Roussin’s lyrics that are desperate to draw attention to the plight of Saskatchewan, which it singles out as a part of Western Canada that needs urgent attention of all: “The stories I’ve heard of what we call Saskatchewan sound more to me like age old open sores”. It paints a picture of Saskatchewan as a place where the truth of history has been most unfortunately swept under the carpet at a huge risk of dangerous consequences. How can future generations know the truth if it is told to them upside down? How can we not have failed generations long gone, who worked hard to preserve our true historical accounts and ancestral information, now very much in the jaws of extinction? These are strong questions asked in Roussin’s song. The song makes reference to the clash between modernity and tradition: “Education is the new buffalo (it’s what we know)”. It says that the present generation has fallen so much for the ever changing lure of technology and all its incredible array of modern information, which it suggests, is one reason why information on the native people, native land and culture, are being relegated to the status of nothing-of-substance, and constantly being replaced by European ways Roussin’s song clearly despises: “Got (We’re good to go)”.

“All Those Years of Heart” is a song whose messages and calls for action are very much relevant in today’s Canada, and will continue to be. Its messages could also resonate with people in other parts of the world that have, and are still experiencing intrusive effects of European culture. This is a song that very well has a strong central message that is hinged on not allowing true stories of the culture and lands of the indigenous Indian people to be at the mercy of extinction.



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Kenechukwu Obi

Kenechukwu Obi is a Canadian writer with a marketing degree. He writes articles, poetry, plays, novels, short stories and song lyrics.